One of our favorite meals in New Zealand, was at restaurant called Shed 5, on the wharf in Wellington. It was a simple Grilled Calamari Salad with a Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette. In the version we had, they used a Spanish style cured chorizo instead of bresola. ( I am a little obsessed Spanish chorizo right now and it’s because of this very salad we had there. I fell in love with its smokey depth from the addition of smoked paprika. A little goes a long way. Use it as a seasoning, finely dicing it, for hints of flavor, rather than using it as a main ingredient. Today, sadly, I was all out of chorizo, so I substituted bresola, an Italian cured beef salami. Spicy coppa would work great too.)
First, drizzle your calamari steaks with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and whatever herb you have on hand. I had thyme.
Calamari steaks, if you are unfamiliar, are basically the round cylindrical body of a very large squid, sliced open and flattened out, and trimmed into steaks.
Make a Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette. Preserved lemons, most commonly used in Moroccan and Indian cooking, are basically lemons that have been cured, or pickled in salt and lemon juice. They have an interesting intense, salty lemony flavor, and if you’ve never tried them, you will enjoy their uniqueness. If you like the flavor of capers, you will love these. They can be found at specialty markets, like Huckleberry’s in Spokane, but truthfully are kind of expensive. They are ridiculously easy to to make at home, but require a lot of time, about 30 days. If you are interested in making your own, look at this easy Preserved Lemon Recipe. When using preserved lemon in recipes, it is good to taste them first, as they can really vary in saltiness. If very salty, rinse them first. In general, it is the tenderized rind itself that packs the great flavor.
Thinly slice your bresola (or finely diced chorizo, or spicy coppa)
When grilling calamari, remember that they cook extremely fast. Just a few mites on each side, until the flesh become opaque. Calamari tastes the best right off the grill so be sure to time everything so that the calamari is one of the last steps. Thinly slice and drizzle with a little vinaigrette.
These tiny little cuts on the calamari were put there to keep the calamari from curling on the grill. If your steaks don’t come with these, then add some with a sharp knife, or place something heavy ( foil wrapped brick) on top as they cook.
If cooking for guests, you could serve all components separately on a platter, drizzling each with the vinaigrette.
Or you could individually plate…
2 Calamari steaks ( about 6 oz each)
1 Red Bell pepper, halved and seeded, for grilling
1/2 Walla Wall Sweet Onion, sliced in thin rounds for grilling
1-2 C mini new potatoes (I used really tiny ones…under 1 inch in diameter)
Baby Arugula 2-3 Cups
1/4 cup small diced or sliced Bresola, Spanish style cured chorizo or Spicy Coppa
Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 T Preserved lemon
2 T lemon juice
1/4 C sliced Bresola ( or spanish chorizo, or coppa)
1 tsp fresh herb ( like parsley, mint, thyme, tarragon)
Drizzle with olive oil, lemon zest, and salt and pepper both sides, herbs and red pepper flakes
Let sit 10 minutes.
In a small pot, cover potatoes with water and a generous pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer until tender …about 15-20 min.
While this is simmering…
Turn on your Grill to Medium heat
Very finely dice 1 T of preserved lemon using mostly rind
Place in a small bowl.
add 4 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 T finely diced shallot (or chives or scallions)
Taste for salt ( preserved lemons vary in salt levels) and add a pinch if necessary.
Add cracked pepper.
You could can add an herb to this. I happened to have thyme, but really any tender herb would work fine ( parsley, basil, tarragon, mint).
Drain your potatoes, toss with a little vinaigrette, set aside or set on platter.
On your preheated grill, (set at Med heat), place your bell pepper and onion slices. Cover. A few minutes later, add calamari. Calamari will cook faster, so less time is needed on the grill. (2 -3minutes on each side or until opaque) Onions and bell pepper will take 4-5 minutes on each side. Keep covered. when nicely charred, remove from heat.
Toss Arugula and bresola slivers with some of the vinaigrette, just enough to coat, reserving the rest.
Either pile high on a platter or in the center of each plate.
Slice the warm calamari and bell pepper into thin strips and place on platter, along with grilled sweet onions (or arrange on each plate) Drizzle a little vinaigrette over the calamari, onion and bell pepper.
Serve immediately. Its best when the calamari is still warm and fresh off the grill.
image from …. thirty handmade days